The Inclusive Growth Podcast - hosted by the Centre for Progressive Policy
EVENT: A shared motto or common paths?
If the Trump era was about America First, President Joe Biden has made his administration about ‘jobs first’ – both in recovering from the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and in responding to climate change. Similarly, Prime Minster Boris Johnson – invigorated by a swathe of Conservative party victories in recent elections – has promised that the UK will go ‘from jab, jab, jab to jobs, jobs, jobs’. The US and the UK face the same conjuncture. The economics and politics of both countries have been driven increasingly by the salience of division and inequality – whether regional, racial, health, wealth or income related.
Upon assuming the presidency, Joe Biden set out a vision for unity to rebuild in the devastating wake of Covid-19, but it would be no mean feat against a backdrop of historic uprising in the Washington State Capitol and the Black Lives Matter protests that had swept the nation – and the world – over the previous summer. With long term stagnant to falling middle class wages, an ever-polarising city vs rural divide and Covid pushing over 2 million women out of the US workforce, the question of how to build back better, and what this could mean for different people and places will define the future of the country in decades to come. In the UK, the challenges of shaping new, post-Brexit trade links are as much about responding to the grievances of the former red wall as an exercise in foreign diplomacy. The result in the recent Hartlepool by-election typifies the scale of political dislocation from ‘traditional’ values and voting patterns, all while our very constitutional existence is under question as a United Kingdom.
Much hope on both sides of the Atlantic has been pinned on the creation of new, green jobs – simultaneously driving prosperity and reducing climate emissions. Trillions of dollars have been committed by the US President for investment in physical and – notably – social infrastructure. This investment-led approach to more sustainable, inclusive growth has been heralded by some as the timely and long overdue introduction of a firmer social safety net. Others fear the impact of this approach, overheating the economy with the sheer scale of federal financial intervention and shifting the US towards a model directly opposed to its founding 'small State’ principles. Meanwhile Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is leading a seismic shift in UK politics in its mission to level up by tackling ingrained regional inequalities across the UK - territory previously the reserve of the Left. Investment in physical infrastructure and the quality of local high streets are high on the agenda, with the promise of a ‘skills and training revolution’ also in the offing.
What do UK and US leaders – national and local – need to do to deliver on the hope of building back better? What are the key barriers to success? What can the UK learn from its US counterparts, and vice versa? How do we prevent this moment being a missed opportunity for systemic change? Are we witnessing a more fundamental shift in the Anglo-Saxon model that has shaped the development of modern capitalism in the UK, US and beyond? What might the results of this shift be in the medium – longer term?
- Penny Abeywardena, NYC Commissioner & former Director of Girls and Women Integration (CGI)
- Heidi Binko, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Just Transition Fund
- Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future
- Bruce Katz, Founding Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University in Philadelphia
- Sir John Kay, Economist